Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Identity - Object or Product of Identification

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

In common parlance, the act of "identification" or "measuring" produces "an identity" or "a measurement", and multiple various acts of identification or measuring produces multiple various "identities" and "measurements". 

Of course we are all familiar with Rand's statement "Identity IS existence, consciousness is identification" which indicates usage of "identity" as signifying the metaphysical objects of identification by a subject.

Is anyone familiar with any reference by Rand which uses her concept of "identity" as signifying any product of identification?   Did Rand use her term "identity" to signify anything other than the metaphysical which is capable of identification?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

In short, having the line from Atlas Shrugged etched in the rearward glass on the cap of my truck "Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification." the comma marks the dividing point, in my mind, between the metaphysical and the epistemological.

I would welcome an empirical example that would upset this apple-cart. (Not really, but it would certainly challenge my understanding thus far.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

The reversal you ask of is nothing else but the primacy of consciousness. This turns measurement into construction, objectivity into creation, consciousness from the faculty of perceiving that which exists into the faculty of creating it.

All of which not only undermines Oist premises but makes everything nonsensical contradictions and philosophy meaningless.

 

Identification does not "produce" identity but discovers it.

Edit: "common parlance" I've actually never heard anyone say identification "produces identities "

Where did you hear such a silly thing? The closest thing I know of is the Copenhagen "measurement miracle" of quantum mystics. 

Edited by Plasmatic
Link to post
Share on other sites

Identity theft.

Liquor ID

The identity of the perpetrator is yet to be generated from all the hard work of our investigation.

A machine that performs identification of goods generates "identity information" or "identity signals" which carry an ID of the goods.

 

I agree "Common parlance" is pushing it...  I do not advocate sloppy or nontechnical usage... but there is an aspect of the product of identification which laypersons call or refer to as an identity, an ID.  This is technically an error but I believe it is an error sometimes made. 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think he's asking if Rand believed that objective identifications one makes - which would not necessarily be a part of an entity in the sense of Aristotelian essence - are considered part of an entity's identity. That is, would a relation, for example, be part of an entity's identity? If you identify a relation objectively, I'd think it's part of an entity's identity. If a book is next to a bed, that's a relation, but "next-to-bedness" isn't metaphysical, yet still part of the book's identity.

 

EDIT: Added a word.

Edited by Eiuol
Link to post
Share on other sites

Eiuol:

 

Tiny quibble:

4 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

If a book is next to a bed, that's a relation, but "next-to-bedness" isn't metaphysical,

I agree that "next-to-bedness" is not metaphysically IN the BOOK.  But the "book is next to the bed" is definitely, metaphysically in the "book + bed" system.

 

We could discuss this further but the OP is really is about getting at what Rand actually thought.  Maybe we could speculate on particular application once that has been established.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Louie said:

Quote

I think he's asking if Rand believed that objective identifications one makes - which would not necessarily be a part of an entity in the sense of Aristotelian essence - are considered part of an entity's identity.

Im not trolling you but you have unique way of making language as unclear as it can get while providing a veneer of relevance. I am extremely interested in understanding your type of psycho-epistemology.

The only entity "Objective identifications" are part of, are the identifying entity. Because, "identification" is a concept of consciousness. Objectivity is a relation of the identity of the subject and the identity of the object but the faculty of consciousness that makes "identification" possible is not in the object but in the subject.

 

The constant switch from 1st person to 3rd person is such a pervasive epistemic fog that I am dying to understand it enough to help dismantle it.

 

Quote

AR: The whole trick in talking about anything is to remember what it is you are talking about, and where your definitions came from, and are they correct. You always look back at reaIity—what do we mean by a given concept, or how did we get it?  ITOE

 

Edited by Plasmatic
Link to post
Share on other sites

SL, there is no place where Ms. Rand equivocates the identity of the object with the process of identification performed by the subject. The process is not the content.

I agree that "next-to-bedness" is not metaphysically IN the BOOK.  But the "book is next to the bed" is definitely, metaphysically in the "book + bed" system.

 

"book +bed" is third person and next-to-bedness" involves 1st person relation to 3rd person.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

SL, there is no place where Ms. Rand equivocates the identity of the object with the process of identification performed by the subject. The process is not the content.

I would agree but my question is still open for anyone to come up with a different answer.

3 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

"book +bed" is third person and next-to-bedness" involves 1st person relation to 3rd person

Ok.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, your reply is fine. I think the question is if -what- you identify is always metaphysical, and when not metaphysical, is it still part of an entity's identity. I did not say anything about the person who is identifying or the process of identification. Or to make it simpler: is a relation like "book + bed" metaphysical, and is the relation part the book's or the bed's identity? I'm unsure if there is a quote by Rand which addresses that specifically.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

Just to revive this topic, as I've been thinking about identification myself a lot recently, in the course of thinking over the axioms again.

The real problem with the Objectivist understanding of identification is that it can easily be construed as a "reading-off" of the identity from things, in which case it does look like a version of intrinsicism (or the "diaphanous" model of consciousness Kelley talks about).  

The trouble is, reading-off the identity of things in everyday life is only possible wrt to perception and wrt to the kinds of identifications we learn from school/education/culture - both of which we can be confident are largely accurate, but only at the cost of a) our genetic and cultural evolutionary heritage, and b ) that heritage applying roughly at the level of "middle-sized dry goods" (or the "furniture of the world" - ironic, in view of Rand's use of furniture examples in ITOE :) ).  Once we're outside that comfort zone, reading-off is no longer possible.  Which means that knowledge-discovery, discovery of objectively correct identity, can't fundamentally be a reading-off process. 

To put this another way: if we already have the concept chair, then it's easy to read less/more, similar/different, as signs of (unit) chairhood off of actual chairs; only then do the perceptual discriminations of ordinal less/more, cardinal x amount, or similarity/dissimilarity, have meaning as objective signs of some particular unit identity. 

Only if we already have a concept that's reliable and trustworthy, can certain perceptually picked-out aspects of an object appear as objective signs of metaphysically real unithood under that concept.

But if we are faced with something (again, perceptually picked-out in a rough primary sense - spatiotemporal, causal, sensory) that we've never encountered before, then we can't read off its identity, because no aspect of its perceptual qualities can be construed as signs of an identity unless we already have some identity in mind.

Our only option under those circumstances is to punt an identity from our side, and see if the shoe fits.  At that point, while we certainly can build up to a conjectured identity by means of the conceptual process of distinction of similarities and differences, ordinal/cardinal measurement, etc., that doesn't have any bite to it, in the way that our former readings-off of signs did (because of the evolutionarily-guaranteed or culturally-guaranteed reliability of the concept); we could be wrong and misidentifying in any number of ways.

But that's the actual logical situation we're in, that's the ground floor of epistemology, not the reading-off of identities, but the conjecture and refutation of possible identities.  Not reading-off perceptual qualities as signs of kinds of "somethings" we already know exist, but conjecturing a new kind of "something" that such perceptual qualities as those could be signs of.

IOW, I think you can have the following process be objective in the important metaphysical aspect (primary of existence), yet still involve a certain element of the subjective in a epistemological sense:- we punt, or conjecture the identity of a thing (with our aim being precisely to get at the metaphysically real identity of it), and on the principle of existence=identity we deduce particular logically necessary likely responses of the thing consequent upon particular moves, pokes, proddings and interventions of ours, at a level at which they can be confirmed/disconfirmed directly by perception.  If the thing passes the tests, then we are rationally justified in continuing to use that identification (nothing speaks against it, everything for it: ok use it).  The greater the degree of rigour, the higher the level of abstraction, the less confirmation and induction are valid (because we are now in rarified air that hasn't been settled by the prior, largely reliable evolutionary processes we've inherited), the more Popperian disconfirmation becomes the only viable method (actual winnowing-out, or like sculpting by removing material that's definitely false, to reveal something that we are rationally justified in holding provisionally true).  

The long and the short of it is that it's generate-and-test all the way up and down :)

As a side-note: I would keep this sort of idea strictly apart from representationalism, though.  There is (it seems highly likely) an abstract kind of "representation" at the level of the brain (registers and values of some kind arising from the neuronal machinery), but we don't have conscious access to that, what we have is the direct presentation of objects - the perceptual form of reading-off - as the product of our inherited identification machinery at the perceptual level, which then forms the foundation for either common, comfort-zone (school/work/university-level) reading-off of identification or the more exploratory, conjectural, scientific conceptual process of identification at the bleeding edge of science.

Edited by gurugeorge
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Measurement doesn't produce identity.  Measurement is a act of human consciousness.  Measurement identifies a quantitative relationship between concretes in the world.

Quantities exist whether you measure them or not. An arithmetic expression can be changed by a choice of units but the relationship among magnitudes remains the same.

"This pencil is twice as that one" identifies a quantitative relationship between 2 metaphysical existents but it's not a measurement since it makes no reference to a man-made standard. It's true whether I measure it in centimeters or inches.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...